Audi Q5 long-term test review
The old Audi Q5 was a stalwart among premium family SUVs, so can this new model move the game on even further?...
- The car: Audi Q5 2.0 TDI quattro 190 S line S tronic
- Run by: Darren Moss, deputy editor whatcar.com
- Why it’s here: The old Q5 was Audi’s best-selling model worldwide, so this new version needs to be even better in every respect, while holding off increasingly competent rivals.
- Needs to: Be all things to all people – economical and comfortable over long and short journeys, with enough space inside to take a full load of passengers plus luggage.
Price: £41,085 Price as tested: £45,050 Miles covered: 1056 Official economy: 55.4mpg Test economy 40.2mpg Options fitted: Technology Pack (£1395), Floret Silver paint (£645), Advanced key with hands-free boot opening (£525), Rear-view camera (£450), Rear bench seat plus (£350), Audi Virtual Cockpit (£250), Storage Pack (£175), Flat-bottom multi-function steering wheel (£100), Hill-hold assist (£75), Sport suspension (free)
08 June 2017 – the Audi Q5 joins our fleet
It’s sometimes said that the BMW 5 Series Touring estate is all the car you’ll ever need. Roomy, beautifully built, frugal and comfy for long journeys… if you had to pick one car to see you through the apocalypse, this would be it.
But here’s the thing: SUVs easily outsell estates in the UK, so surely if you’re going to pick one car for all your needs, shouldn’t it be an SUV? With that in mind, perhaps this new Audi Q5 is actually the ultimate all-rounder.
Now in its second generation – you can read our used car review of the first Q5 here – it has more aggressive styling than before, and yet between our car’s Floret Silver paint (a £645 option) and its chunky front grille, it’s still instantly recognisable as an Audi. I like it a lot.
First impressions of the interior are also good. Everything looks expensive and feels solid – although previous experience with our long-term Audi A4 saloon’s loose gearlever trim makes me wonder whether the build quality will turn out to be quite as good as it looks.
At least I can be certain that I won’t be left wanting when it comes to kit. Our car is in range-topping S line trim, so as well as the sat-nav and sports seats of the cheaper Sport model, it gets larger 19in alloy wheels, more aggressive-looking front and rear bumpers and part-Alcantara upholstery. The list of extras on our car is long, too. We’ve chosen sport suspension (a no-cost option), a Storage Pack (£175) to help me make the most of the sizeable boot, and a Technology Pack (£1395) comprising a widescreen infotainment display, a 10GB music hard drive, wireless smartphone charging and, most desirable of all, Audi’s Virtual Cockpit.
Since I first tried this digital dashboard system in an Audi TT in 2015, I’ve loved the way it places the most relevant information right in front of your eyes. But while I thought I’d spend all my time with the sat-nav map displayed on the main 12.3in screen, leaving the 8.3in secondary screen somewhat redundant, this hasn’t turned out to be the case; after a few days, I swapped the bright colours of the map for a less glitzy fuel economy readout.
Talking of fuel economy, our car’s 187bhp 2.0-litre diesel engine is, officially at least, the most efficient option in the Q5 range, with an average of 55.4mpg on 19in wheels. At this early stage, we’re getting an average of only 38mpg in real-world use, but that’s partly because our car arrived with just 195 miles showing on the odometer. It’ll take a while for the diesel engine to bed in and start performing at its best, at which point I hope to see its fuel economy improve considerably.
Still, overall, first impressions of the engine are good. It’s very refined, producing little noise or vibration, and while it doesn’t make the Q5 feel especially fast, it has performed perfectly admirably both during my daily commute and on longer motorway journeys. It’s helped by the smooth-shifting sevenspeed S tronic automatic gearbox that comes as standard. Indeed, I’ve not yet felt the urge to override its decisions by pulling on the Q5’s steering wheel-mounted shift paddles.
There are some early niggles elsewhere, though. The automatic hill hold function (which prevents the car from rolling back when you come to a stop) is too slow to disengage when the time comes to pull away. And while the infotainment system lets you enter sat-nav destinations by writing them onto a touchpad with your fingertip, it has so far been unable to recognise some of my inputs.
Finally, there’s the price. Without options, our Q5 weighs in at £40,200, and the extensive list of extras takes that to £45,050. Even among premium SUVs of this size, that’s a lot. When you consider the strength of the Q5’s competition – the BMW X3, Jaguar F-Pace, Land Rover Discovery Sport and Mercedes-Benz GLC – the scale of the challenge becomes clear.
Yet given how popular the original Q5 proved to be, Audi clearly knows a thing or two about what SUV buyers want. So, can this latest Q5 prove itself to be the best choice for anyone in the market for an upmarket, five-seat SUV? And can it go beyond that, replacing the 5 Series Touring as my do-it-all, end-of-the-world car? I’ve got six months to answer that.